History abstracted from several sources including:
1) "A Look at
Old Paulsboro," by the Paulsboro Tercentenary Committee, 1964
Four Flags, Old Gloucester County," Hazel B. Simpson, editor; Camden., NJ
of the Paul House - click on the graphic to see a larger version
& BILLINGSPORT 1664-1964
AREA EARLY HISTORY
Paulsboro, New Jersey is an industrial town located on the Delaware
River across from Philadelphia. It is bound by the Delaware River on
the north, the Mantua Creek on the east, Greenwich Township on the west,
and East Greenwich Township on the south. 1904 is considered the beginning
date for Paulsboro, but its history actually begins with the Leni Lenape
Native Americans who inhabited the area then known as Crown Point, before
the white men arrived.
The first white settlement on the Delaware was made
in 1623 when Captain Cornelius Mey sailed to the mouth of Big Timber
Creek. His men established Fort Nassau.
For information regarding the early Swedish settlement of
the Delaware, refer
to information on the Swedish Colonial web site.
King Charles of England, in 1664, granted the land
from the Delaware River to Connecticut, to his brother, and Lord Berkeley
became the proprietor of West Jersey. In 1672, after much dispute among
the settlers, the land was given to England. Settlers came and a yearly
rent was charged. West Jersey progressed slowly and Lord Berkeley sold
part of the land to John Fenwick and Edward Byllings. There was a dispute
over the division and William Penn was called in to settle the disagreement
by setting the boundaries. Byllings was awarded the land between Oldman's
Creek and Timber Creek to the river. Paulsboro just missed becoming
a part of Penn's Philadelphia in this division. The deed was recorded
on September 22, 1677. Two hundred and thirty settlers who came with
Penn and Byllings bought land for one penny an acre. The place was named
Byllings Port, now Billingsport. Penn stated that this land would never
become a great industrial center because it was an island with a swamp
on one side and a creek on the other.
EARLY DAYS OF THE TOWNSHIP
In 1686 Gloucester County was formed.
Greenwich Township became the first township. It was incorporated on
March 1, 1694.
[NOTE: There are documents which indicate that the Paul
family may have originated in Stocklinch, Somerset Co., England, and
not Scotland. If you are a descendant of this line, or a researcher
of the Paul Family, realize the following paragraph is taken from a
history about Paulsboro and may not be accurate]. On September 5,
1685, John, Philip, and Joel Paul left Edinburg, Scotland for America.
After a ten year stay in Virginia, Joel settled in Pennsylvania, and
Philip and John settled near Mantua Creek. Samuel P. Paul, son
of Philip bought a 100 acre tract of land bound by the Delaware River
on the north and the Mantua Creek on the east.
In 1764 England claimed all of New Jersey. When the
English took possession, they found many Swedes living in the area.
The Swedish name for Billingsport was Manta's Hook, and it was a shad
fishing center. The homes of the Swedes were built of logs, chinked
with clay, and were one story dwellings, consisting of one room. The
doors were so low that one had to stoop to enter. The windows were holes
cut in the logs with sliding boards to cover them. The men and women
dressed in animal skins. Their shoes were of skins which they dyed red
with berries. They brought horses, cows, sheep, hogs and seed with them
from Sweden. They kept many national customs and every Saturday night
they bathed in the creek.
PAULSBORO DURING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
On July 5, 1776 Margaret Paul, widow of
John Paul, and her son Benjamin Weatherby, sold 96 acres of Billingsport
for 600 pounds of Pennsylvania currency to the Council of Safety of
Philadelphia. The land was charged to Congress. This was the first piece
of land bought by our federal government.
In 1777 a redoubt and fort were erected at Billingsport
by troops from Virginia, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and New Jersey
in accordance with plans prepared by the Polish patriot Kosciuszko.
Part of a defense system established for the lower river, the purpose
of this fort was to build and maintain the chevaux-de-frise on the Delaware
to prevent the entrance of the British to Philadelphia. The chevaux-de-frise
were made of poles from 30-40 feet in length. On the point of each stick
was fastened a long, sharp pierce of iron for piercing the bottom of
any vessel which passed over it.
The defense system consisted of the fortification
of strategic points on both sides of the river, a chain of alarm guns
from the Capes to Philadelphia, the chevaux-de-frise, and a navy of
vessels, from armed row-galleys to seagoing ships. Two posts were erected
on the New Jersey side of the river. The other post was Fort Mercer
at Red Bank.
On August 1, 1777 the fort was inspected by George
Washington and Lafayette and the men were commended by them for their
work. Washington had moved his men from Morristown to Philadelphia at
the time because he had learned that Admiral chow's fleet had sailed
from Sandy Hook, a spot then controlled by the British, and were headed
to Philadelphia. Lord Howe did sail up the Delaware, but he was stopped
at Billingsport by the naval stockade. The outnumbered Americans later
burned their barracks here and went to Red Bank. Billingsport was the
tenth alarm post on the Delaware, equipped with a small cannon which
warned other posts of the arrival of enemy ships. The fort was briefly
occupied by the enemy, bit it was evacuated in 1777.
WAR OF 1812 & BILLINGSPORT
The fort was again occupied by American troops in
the War of 1812. The "Blues of Gloucester County," a volunteer
infantry regiment, was recruited on August 27, 1814 the day news arrived
that British had burned some public buildings in Washington. Randall
Sparks led this group. As late as September 17, 1814, Billingsport's
fort was still in use, as on that date, General Elmer's Brigade assembled
at Billingsport, together with some of the officers and men, commanded
by General Franklin Davenport. They were stationed at Billingsport for
three or more months. After peace was declared, the fort was deserted
A monument was erected many years later by the Esso
Oil Company (later known as the Humble Oil and Refining Company), to
mark the site of this fort.
Between 1700 and 1800 settlers came into the area
and spread settlements over the county. Records show that Gloucester
County was governed at this time by representatives for the township
called justices who seemed to act as court judges and freeholders. In
1800 Paulsboro was still called Crown Point. It then consisted of a
stone farm house occupied by Samuel Paul, who owned property from the
creek to Delaware Street. Below Delaware Street was owned by Henry Myers.
Paul's land along the Delaware was called Paul's Fishing Place. In 1805
the Paul family owned half of the town.
In 1811 there were three houses, two stores and two
shoemakers in the town. In 1798 Mr. Paul sold two acres of land to Michael
Loudenslager who, in 1804, built a tavern on the corner of Commerce
and Broad Streets. That was the second house in town. There was no road
along Broad Street, although one had been surveyed, so Mr. Loudenslager
closed his hotel until 1809 when the turnpike, a toll road, of which
Broad Street was a part, was built. The third house in Paulsboro was
built in 1811 by John Bowers.
John Benus, the first shoemaker, opened his business
in 1811. The first postmaster was Jacob Price in 1844. In 1812 a small
bridge was built across the creek. Before this time the creek was crossed
by a boat. The first schoolhouse was built in 1820. Benjamin Lodge,
the first schoolmaster, dispensed learning and hickory oil for three
cents a day. In 1825 Dr. Charles Clark, the first physician, came to
town. Thomas Ware was the first preacher in Crown Point. The first religious
meeting was held in 1825 in the schoolhouse. The Methodist Church was
incorporated in 1827 with twelve members. The first church was built
of stone in 1838, Samuel Paul, for whom the town was named, gave the
land adjoining the church for a burial ground. He was the first to be
buried in the new cemetery.
In 1858 the population had increased to 450. A hotel
was built on Main Street and another school was built at Buck Street.
The streets after the school were named Washington, Adams, Jefferson,
Madison, and Monroe.
The county became involved with the Civil War at this
time, Paulsboro was also involved because it sent young volunteers to
serve in Company E., 24th Regiment of New Jersey. Paulsboro has seen
no action in any war since the Revolution, but it has sent its young
men to serve our cause on distant soil.
New churches were formed during this time. The Presbyterian
Church began in 1868. The St. James Episcopal Church was built in 1873.
Before this time the main means of transportation
has been by boat on the rivers. In 1876 the railroad entered Paulsboro.
It was a private company called the Delaware-Shore Line. After suffering
financially, it was taken over by the DuPont Company and called the
Delaware River Railroad. It later became part of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
As in other areas, the coming of the railroad spurred business and settlement
Around 1880 the government decided that Billingsport
was an excellent location for a lighthouse and one was built there (The
Tinicum Rear Range Light House station - SEE BELOW) on an elevated
point a short distance from the old Billingsport fort. The government
named Benjamin Hannold the first lightkeeper. This lighthouse
was automated in 1967.
In 1880, Coe and Richman bought a farm
of 120 acres from Samuel Davis and built one of the largest phosphate
works in the United States at that time. Later I.P. Thomas and Sons,
Co., owned the works and they made and sold fertilizers and insecticides
for farm and home use.
The All-Thompson baseball team brought fame to the
town around this time. It was the first all brother baseball team in
the world and all of its members lived in Paulsboro. They began with
no uniforms and no equipment. The catcher caught with his bare hands.
The team played the Cuban Stars in Gloucester and offered a challenge
to any team in the world composed of all brothers. They gave exhibition
games at the Chicago World's Fair.
In 1890 St. John's Roman Catholic Church began. In
the same year Lincoln Park was built by Robert Patterson. It was situated
on a 28 acre plot along the river. Formally opened on June 14, 1890,
it was an amusement park with concerts and fireworks every two weeks.
It was the only place for entertainment at that time because the automobile
was not yet in use and a resort close to home and to available transportation
was necessary. People came from all over to swim, hold picnics, and
enjoy the amusements. The park attracted large crowds from Philadelphia.
It was particularly famous for its carousel and was kept orderly by
Captain Linden of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. "The Jersey Blue,"
a ferry, handled the river traffic between Philadelphia and Billingsport.
In 1892 the Methodist Episcopal Church was begun.
The Taylor Memorial Baptist Church started in 1897. The first fire company
was organized on April 14, 1899 and was incorporated in 1900. The first
piece of equipment was purchased and kept in Armstrong's Livery Stable.
When the alarm rang, Mr. Armstrong provided the horses for the company.
Lincoln Park was now at its height. Sixteen trains
brought many passengers from the Philadelphia-Camden area to Billingsport
daily. Two ferries and five steamboats made the trip across the river
Public Library was started in 1900. The First National Bank and
Trust Company began on May 25, 1901. Capital stock was $30,000. Benjamin
Paul was the first president.
On March 2, 1904 Paulsboro and Billingsport, previously
part of Greenwich Township, were incorporated as the Borough of Paulsboro,
taking the name from Samuel Paul. Gill Hannold was the first mayor.
Lincoln Park had lost its popularity and had closed.
It opened a second time, but was unsuccessful due to the advent of the
automobile, which now enabled people to travel, and again closed, this
time for good. Summer homes were built along the Delaware and occupied
by people mainly from Philadelphia. These were small resort homes on
the shore and they provided summer relaxation, swimming and boating
for their occupants.
In 1904 the Billingsport Volunteer Fire Company began
three days after the serious fire which totally destroyed the Billingsport
and Philadelphia Ferry Co. on the morning of October 5, 1904. Samuel
De Binder, a Philadelphia businessman who had a summer home in Billingsport,
called a meeting at his residence on October 8 to organized and initiate
a permanent organization to be known as the Billingsport Volunteer Fire
Association. The meeting was attended by fifteen men.
Future meetings were held in members' homes until
the hall over the store of Wm. H. Flowers was secured for meetings.
In 1905 the company received a two-wheel hose reel and 500 feet of hose,
the beginning of Billingsport's fire fighting equipment. Due to the
need to store this equipment, a five year lease was obtained on what
was called Cinnelly's Shop, a one story frame building at the entrance
to Lincoln Park. The company was incorporated on May 14, 1905.
In 1906 the Second Baptist Church, composed of a negro
congregation was built. A gas plant was also built that year which supplied
gas to Paulsboro until 1953.
Just before World War I, the export business of Vacuum
Oil required a refinery on the east coast. A location near Paulsboro
seemed most suitable and Vacuum purchased it in April 1916. The Paulsboro
plant, which began in 1917, was designed to manufacture lubricating
oil. Gasoline and kerosene were considered by-products. Mobil, the plant's
name [in 1964], is actually located in Gibbstown and it pays its taxes
to that municipality. (Penn's boundary places it a few feet from the
Paulsboro boundary), but it is referred to as the Paulsboro plant and
most of its employees live in Paulsboro.
Mobil also operates  a research laborator here.
Some of the great advances in petroleum processing were first used commercially
at the Paulsboro refinery. The first continuous two-stage fractioning
unit was built in 1928. The first Duo-Sol unit for continuous treating
of lubricating oil stock was put into service in 1936. In this year
the first commercial catalytic cracking unti was also put into operation.
The main products of Mobil are lubricating oil, gasoline, and motor
Paulsboro was now changing from a residential to an
industrial town. The first movie was shown on the second floor of the
Bailey Building. Movies were shown in the "Auditorium" twice
a week. Friday was dance night and the young men brought in girls from
the surrounding areas because there was a shortage of girls in town.
A law was passed stating that movies weren't allowed on the second floor
and Mr. Bailey built a movie house which opened to the public in 1916.
The first principal was a Mr. Burns. In 1918 Mr. Hill bought the movie
house from Bailey and named it the "Hill." On April 12, 1921
money was appropriated to build a system of drainage and sewage disposal.
In 1924 the Billingsport Grade School, with fourteen rooms, was built.
It accomodated 438 pupils and fourteen teachers. In this year Paulsboro
bought and began to operate the water company. Mail delivery was begun
on July 1 of that year. In 1928 the Atlantic City Electric Company began
to operated in town. Electricity had previously been supplied by the
Boro. In 1930 the population of Paulsboro was 7, 121.
In 1935 the present bridge crossing Mantua Creek was
built because the former bridge, due to increased traffic, proved to
be too narrow. Mr. Hill built a new movie theatre and the old theatre
became known as the Boro. In 1939 the government built a new federal
post office. Located on the Delaware and Adams Streets, the building
was dedicated on November 24, 1939.
1950s AND BEYOND
The population in 1950 was 7,840. The First National
Bank and Trust Company celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1951. In 1953
the gas plant was sold and the South Jersey Gas Company in Glassboro
began to supply Paulsboro with natural gas.
The Library name was changed from the
Paulsboro Free Library to the Gill Memorial Library at the dedication
opening on July 7, 1951 with Irma C. Lodge as its first Librarian.
[In 1964] Paulsboro has many churches. There is one
Catholic church, three Methodist, two Baptist, one Presbyterian, one
Episcopal, one Bethel A.M.E., one Mt. Carmel U.A.M.E., and a Kingdom
Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. There were two elementary schools,
and a junior-senior high school. There was also a Catholic school which
includes grades one through eight.
Valero Energy Corp. purchased Mobil's Paulsboro,
N.J., refinery in 1998.
In 1990, there were 6,577 people living in Paulsboro, and as of the
census of 2000, there are 6,160 people, 2,353 households, and 1,614
families residing in the borough
has several businesses and many stores. It is located on Route #130
and #295 goes through the outskirts of town. It is connected to Philadelphia
and other towns in New Jersey by bus, train, and water. There are now
two volunteer fire companies with modern equipment serving the community.
Paulsboro is governed by a mayor and council.
An industrial town, Paulsboro is located in a prime
industrial and cultural area because of its proximity to the Delaware
River and to Philadelphia. Paulsboro is looking forward toward the future.
The two oldest houses in Paulsboro are the "Paul House" (built
about 1810) and the Gill Library (built for Matthew Gill in 1806).
PROFILE OF PAULSBORO, NEW JERSEY
of Paulsboro, N.J.
of Worship in Paulsboro, N.J. - from Church Angel
P H O T O G R A P H S
Some photographs from booklet: "A Look at Old Paulsboro,"
by the Paulsboro Tercentenary Committee, along with links to old postcards
Brothers Baseball Team about 1890
Baseball Team of 1875
Billingsport Fire Engine
Burrows & Joe Mitgerald at Isaac Cox & Bro. Carriage Works, 3. Broad St.
of Gill Hannold's "rigs" at Chestnut and Monroe Streets, l to r, Samuel
Garwood, Unknown, Burt Hepperd. The building behind was torn down in 1964.
Park "roadster" circa 1916
of the "Paul House"
Bridge across Mantua Creek
Hall on W. Broad Street
Paulsboro High School Graduating Class 1917: l to r, Millie Reed, Rae Shuster,
Edward Bramell, Earle Wonderlich, J. Garnett West, Elsie Risner and Olive Middleton.
Paulsboro Fire Engine
Paulsboro Hotel about 1900
Saint Paul's M.E. Church, Paulsboro NJ circa 1927- graciously
sent by Sheri Baker of Dayton Ohio
of Gill Memorial Library & Museum in Paulsboro, New Jersey (taken June 2006)
Please do not use without permission of webmaster|
sign for Gill Memorial Library Newer
sign for Gill Memorial Library Front
entrance to Gill Memorial Library Paulsboro NJ
of Gill Memorial Library Matthew
Gill and Mary Jessup Gill, in whose memory the library building was donated. An
embrodiery on display
under glass, on display in the museum room Various
Paulsboro historic items on display Birds
Eye Maple writing desk
Fire officer's uniform and some of the research books
of Tinicum Light House Birds
Eye View Map of Paulsboro Old
map of Paulsboro area
Rear Range Light House|
The Tinicum Rear Range Light House station was
established in 1880, and was automated in 1967. The foundation is made of stone,
with the remainer of iron. It stands 86 feet high. [The posted sign says: "Open
Third Weekend of each Month, April to October (Saturday 10 to 3; Sunday 12 to
Intersection of Mantua and Second Streets, Paulsboro, N.J.
[Next to the Paulsboro
Little League Ball Field]
Light Station - National Park Service
Lighthouse - Lighthouse Friends